A recent study by researchers at the University of Illinois-Champaign found that yoga can relieve stress and anxiety for working adults. The study involved an eight-week, moderate-intensity virtual program, which allowed participants to practice yoga in the comfort of their own homes.
Yoga promotes relaxation and relief when overwhelmed
Researchers compared yoga to aerobic exercise and highlighted the benefits of complex movements that require mindful navigation of space, technique, and breathing. This research suggests that yoga, like mindfulness, can promote relaxation and offer relief from overwhelming situations.
The participants were provided with instructional videos for self-paced learning, focusing on Sun salutations, a sequence of yoga poses representing the sunrise and sunset. Over time, they were gradually encouraged to practice independently and increase their self-reliance.
Associate professor at the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Sean Mullen stated that their approach revolves around enhancing someone’s self-assurance regarding their selected physical activities. Mullen said they initiate a gentle pace and gradually advance step by step.
The researchers conducted a study to determine if engaging in activities with multiple sequences, such as yoga, could enhance working memory, similar to learning a dance. They hypothesized that moving through various postures instead of static holds would potentially improve attention and inhibition control and spatial memory. Additionally, the study provided an opportunity to examine individuals’ adherence to a virtual exercise program during the pandemic.
Practising yoga can reduce anxiety and improve memory function
According to Mullen, practising moderate-intensity yoga at home can reduce anxiety and improve short-term working memory without compromising safety. The study focused on promoting resilience during difficult times. Participants found the program beneficial and recommended it to others. Mullen’s lab plans to further test mind-body interventions and develop technologies to encourage participation in challenging activities like yoga and kickboxing.
Mullen concludes by emphasizing the importance of maintaining a fun and engaging atmosphere while incorporating diverse elements and ensuring inclusivity in their programs. In addition, their approach is customized to accommodate a wider range of individuals, including older adults or those with limited mobility, making the programs accessible to a broader audience.